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Dec 15, 2008 07:51 PM

boston hound needs your help

Hi Chicago Hounds -
I'm a Boston hound flying into your fair (and cold) city tomorrow for a day and a half of business meetings on short notice.

I'm looking for your recommendations on dinner spots for dinner tomorrow night (yes, tomorrow night) I'm sure there are a ton of ideas if I read the board, but I'll confess that I just don't have time. So - here's some guidelines and I'd truly appreciate your thoughts about where we might go.

1)office is on west monroe street. close by is good, but should be within no more than 10-15 min cab ride

2)not interested in chophouses - been to a ton of em. can find a good one or three in every big city.

2a)would love to go to a place that is uniquely chicago - that doesnt mean deep dish pizza, just a place that can only be found in chicago, by a favorite local chef or that focuses on local cuisine. creative, flavorful food, but doesnt need to be 'out there' - eg. molecular gastronomy would be too out there. The Frontera Grill comes to mind perhaps - but is it really all that?

3)they're paying, so cost isnt a huge issue ;)

4)not exactly sure how many will be dining - at least 4, likely 6.

5)dinner is tomorrow night, so it needs to be a place that we can get into midweek without reservations in advance

Thanks in advance for any suggestions (or pointers to good threads)!

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  1. Not sure how far west your office is on Monroe, but here are some options that are within a few blocks of Jefferson and Monroe. Check out these menus:

    I've eaten here on a Friday night (with a reservation) but the room was not packed, so I would assume that mid-week you should be okay.

    This might be harder to get a table mid-week, but it's worth a try. These also might be on, so you might be able to easily check if you can get a reservation!

    1. Yes, it's difficult to know what's close by without knowing where on West Monroe your office is. I'll assume it's in the middle of the Loop (200 W. Monroe or less).

      Also, you should be aware that we're getting 3-5 inches of snow today and tonight. This could make walking more difficult, but it could also make finding a cab to hail more difficult too. For this reason, I'll start with three recommendations within a few blocks walk of Monroe in the Loop, so you shouldn't need a cab.

      Everest is a fancy (jackets required for gentlemen) French-Alsatian restaurant in the Loop. This is one of the best restaurants in Chicago, owned by well-known Chef Jean Joho. (He's the same chef who owns the more bistro-style Brasserie Jo, which has two locations, one here and one in Boston - maybe you've been there.) It's on the 40th Floor of the Midwest Stock Exchange Building, with a terrific view of the entire city. Expensive, although not as outrageous as some other top restaurants.

      Vivere is a very good Italian restaurant in the Italian Village complex (I don't recommend the other restaurants in that complex) and it's right on Monroe.

      Atwood Cafe is a contemporary American restaurant in the Hotel Burnham in the middle of the Loop.

      If your office is in the Loop on Monroe, all of the above are a short walk away. The next two recommendations are in River North, just across the river from the Loop and maybe a half mile to 3/4 mile from Monroe Street in the Loop - walkable on a nice day, not so walkable after a winter storm.

      Aigre Doux is a contemporary American restaurant across the street from the Merchandise Mart, the big building just across the river from the northwest corner of the Loop.

      For Mexican, then I suggest Topolobampo rather than Frontera Grill. These are sister restaurants, next door to each other, both owned/run by Rick Bayless. Topolobampo is a bit more upscale and accepts reservations for the entire restaurant (Frontera only accepts a few reservations and leaves the rest of the place for walk-in traffic, which can be risky).

      All of these accept reservations on so you can use that to make a reservation and/or to see how booked up they are (although sometimes you can get a reservation even when opentable doesn't show availability). I just looked up availability at 7:30 for a table for 4. Topolobampo is mostly booked (nothing between 5:45 and 8:30), Atwood is slightly iffy (they have 6:00 and 7:30, nothing in between), and the others I mention are wide open, no problem getting a reservation.